Quality Schools frequently asked questions

The Australian Government is delivering new school funding and reform arrangements. To explain the reforms, some frequently asked questions are available below.

A series of fact sheets that explain the schools reform package in more detail are also available.

There is also a glossary for key terms used on this website.

How are the changes to the Australian Education Act 2013 impacting on how schools are funded?

From 1 January 2018 amendments to the Australian Education Act 2013 (the Act) took effect. Schools are transitioning over 6 or 10 years to 80 per cent of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) for non-government schools and 20 per cent for government schools.

  • These amendments will provide an additional $24.5 billion in recurrent funding for schools over 2018 to 2027, on top of the 2016–17 Budget settings.

The Government is also providing additional financial support to help non-government schools who may find it difficult to adjust to funding changes.

Under the Act, states and territories must contribute at least 75 per cent of the SRS for government schools and 15 per cent of the SRS for non-government schools, unless otherwise agreed with the Government. States and territories will continue to have discretion for how to distribute their funding to schools, which means whether individual schools remain above or below the SRS is a matter for state and territory governments.

What's the aim of these changes? How do they benefit students?

The Government is providing school funding that is based on the need of students and schools, so that funding goes to where it is needed the most.

The Government has announced its intention that by 2029, all schools will attract consistent shares of the Schooling Resource Standard from the Commonwealth.

When will the new funding arrangements take effect?

The new funding arrangements commenced on 1 January 2018 and schools have started moving to the new consistent shares of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS).

Based on 2017 funding allocations, schools and systems that attracted less than the new Commonwealth share of the SRS will move to their new shares by 2023.

Schools and systems that attracted more than the new Commonwealth share of the SRS will transition over a slightly longer and more manageable period, reaching their new SRS share by 2029.

What does this mean for my school?

More than 99 per cent of schools and systems will see increases in their Commonwealth funding. On average, per student funding from the Government will grow 4.3 per cent each year between this year and 2027. Use the school funding estimator to find out what this means for your school.

Will any schools lose funding?

A very small number of non-government schools are expected to have their recurrent funding reduced as they transition to new Commonwealth share of the Schooling Resource Standard. This is because these non-government schools have historically received more funding than similar schools with students with similar levels of need.

The funding reduction will occur in a manageable way, with most affected schools set to have only a small reduction in Commonwealth funding.

To provide schools with funding certainty and to support a smooth transition, the Government is providing a number of financial support measures designed to assist non-government schools to adjust to new funding levels. Further information is available at the how and when will schools move to new funding arrangements.

What is the National School Resourcing Board?

The Government established the National School Resourcing Board (the Board) to undertake reviews of different parts of the funding model under the Australian Education Act 2013 (the Act).

These reviews will help ensure public confidence in the funding model and ensure states, territories and other approved authorities comply with their obligations under the Act. 

Over time, the reviews undertaken by the Board will help show how school funding is improving educational outcomes, as well as making sure funding is used in line with the Act.

The Board members are:  

  • Mr Michael Chaney AO (Chair)
  • Emeritus Professor Denise Bradley AC (Deputy Chair)
  • Associate Professor Natalie Brown
  • Professor Greg Craven AO
  • Mr Bill Daniels AM
  • Professor Stephen Lamb
  • Professor Ken Smith
  • Dr Alison Taylor

The Board's first priority was to review the funding arrangements for determining the capacity of non-government school communities to contribute to the operational costs of their school.

On 29 June 2018, the Board submitted to the Government its first report on its review of the socio-economic status (SES)  score.

On 20 September 2018, the Australian Government announced its response to the National School Resourcing Board's (the Board's) Review of the socio-economic status (SES) score methodology.

The next reviews expected to be undertaken by the Board will focus on the loading which delivers additional funding for students with disability, and the needs based funding arrangements of approved system authorities.

What are the arrangements for implementing the Government's response to the National School Resourcing Board's review of capacity to contribute arrangements?

The Government will introduce a package of interim support measures providing $170.8 million in additional funding for 2019 for non-government schools. The interim support builds on similar temporary provisions in 2018.

From 2020, new arrangements will use a direct income measure to determine the capacity of a school community to contribute to their school. The direct income measure will be based on the median income of parents or guardians as determined through linkage of personal income data and residential address data collections.

The new arrangements will be phased in over three years from 2020. Approved authorities for schools will be able to choose whether to commence in 2020, 2021 or 2022, depending on their circumstances. The staggered start gives schools the flexibility to move to the new direct income measure once they are confident in their school's data quality.

How is funding for students with disability being improved?

From 2018, the Commonwealth's student with disability loading will be based on the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD).

The NCCD captures all students with disability receiving adjustments to support their access and participation in learning.

Commonwealth funding for students with disability will be provided via a loading at different rates based on students' required level of adjustment (supplementary, substantial or extensive). This will enable funding to be better targeted to student need as identified through the NCCD.

To ensure this data is of the highest possible quality, the Government is providing an additional $20 million over four years (2017-18 to 2020-21) to strengthen and moderate the NCCD across all sectors. Further information is available at  what is the Government is doing to support students with disability.  

How will the Government's plan improve student achievement?

The Government established the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools led by Mr David Gonski AC, to ensure the national reform agenda continues to be strongly linked to the best evidence available of what works. On 28 March 2018, the Review panel delivered the final report to the Government, Through Growth to Achievement: Report of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools

The report’s recommendations and findings along with the Independent Review of Regional Rural and Remote Education and the STEM Partnerships Forum, have informed the development of the National Schools Reform Agreement between the Commonwealth and states and territories.

What is the National Schools Reform Agreement?

The National Schools Reform Agreement is a joint agreement between the Commonwealth and state and territories aimed at providing the best opportunities for students and support for teachers.

The Agreement builds on existing national and local initiatives in each state and territory and ensures that funding is invested in programs that will have the biggest impact on student outcomes.

The Agreement will operate from 2019 to 2023.

What are the reforms in the National School Reform Agreement?

The eight national reforms are based on evidence of what works, in areas where national collaboration will have the greatest impact on driving improved student outcomes. The reforms are focused on supporting students, student learning and achievement, supporting teaching, school leadership and school improvement, and enhancing the national evidence base.

What is required of states and territories under the National School Reform Agreement?

State and territories (states) are required to enter into a national agreement with the Commonwealth as a condition of receiving Commonwealth school funding.

States also sign a bilateral agreement with the Commonwealth that set out state-specific actions that will improve student outcomes.

Bilateral agreements include activities that support particular student cohorts such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students in regional, rural and remote areas, students with disability and students from a low-SES background.

States are required to have a bilateral agreement in place to receive Commonwealth funding.

Previous arrangements

What was the 2011 Gonski review and what did it recommend?

The 2011 Review of Funding for Schooling was commissioned by the former Government and led by Mr David Gonski AC.

The report made many recommendations, but central to the review was the concept of a needs based approach to funding that provided a 'schooling resource standard' with a base amount per student and loadings for disadvantage.

How was the 2011 Gonski Review implemented?

While the Schooling Resource Standard was included in the previous version of the Australian Education Act 2013, Commonwealth recurrent funding varied considerably depending on negotiated arrangements with state and territory governments.

This means students with the same need in the same sector were treated differently because of the state in which they lived.

If the previous arrangements had continued, the transition to more consistent needs-based funding would not occur within decades, or even within 150 years in some instances.

What is the Government doing to fix this?

Under the new Quality Schools Package  announced on the 2 May 2017, students with the same need within the same sector are treated the same, regardless of where they live.

In responding to the Board's report, the Government will increase their support for schools to reach their new share of Commonwealth funding by 2029.

The Government is ensuring that extra funding is focused on supporting schools and teachers to help every student achieve their individual potential. For example, through more one-on-one student support, specialist teachers, and targeted intervention programs.

In addition, the panel for the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools, has made recommendations on how school funding should be used to improve school performance and student outcomes.